Study Abroad﹕Falling ill

【明報專訊】WHAT happens if you feel ill at a boarding school? Do you go to a private clinic or a hospital, or buy tablets from the pharmacy? Not really. At my school, each boarding house has a "matron", a kindly and typically middle‑aged lady who is in charge of housekeeping and looking after pupils when they are feeling poorly. Normally, if you have quite a serious cold, you would go to the matron and ask her to let you off school and sport. Unless you are in visible discomfort, the answer is usually no (although some matrons are ridiculously lenient). In Hong Kong if I was ill, all I had to do was get my mum to call up the school and say that I am not coming; over here, it seems that the English like to foster a sort of hardiness in their children, making them play sport come rain or shine, or illness. My matron has said to me many times that I should go to sport precisely because I am ill, to get some fresh air in my system. Then she would give me two paracetamols, or some olbas oil to soothe my blocked nose (they cannot give out much else as they don't have medical qualifications). And as much as I hate to admit, she is always right about sport making me feel better.